Bronze Age

Russian sculptor Ernst Neizvestny publicly battled Nikita Khrushchev over so-called degenerate modern art and the right of the artist to depict the world however he chooses. “Why do you disfigure the faces of the Soviet people?” Khrushchev demanded after a 1962 exhibit of Neizvestny’s work. Ironically, at Khrushchev’s death, the dictator’s family asked Neizvestny to design his tomb.

Bronze Age, a short documentary by Alexey Shishov and Elena Yakovich, illustrates the granite strength of this dissident artist and his empathetic view that embraces the world. “I’m not against good taste,” the always provocative Neizvestny says with a very dry twinkle, “but I don’t have it. It’s easy to make good art…the problem is that to be an artist of proper taste is just as tasteless as striving to be an experienced poet.”

The topic of taste aside, Neizvestny’s works are captivating. Some are big: the 1968 Lotus Blossom monument for Egypt’s Aswan Dam is the largest sculpture in the world. And some works are exquisitely miniature: swirling, dark illustrations and etchings on the work of Dante, Dostoevsky and Samuel Beckett.

Neizvestny was 50 years old when he was allowed to emigrate to the West. Russia has since made its peace with this international artist, bestowing on him its highest cultural awards. Neizvestny visits Russia but refuses to move back, remaining in his studio in Manhattan and at his sculpture park on Long Island. See the documentary at 7:30 pm. Russian Cultural Center, 2337 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-395-3301 or visit www.ourtx.org/screenings. $6 to $8.
Fri., Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m., 2011

 
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